Derek Jeter fights history

While Jeter’s offensive line was better in 2011 than it was in 2010, all fielding metrics consulted for this piece indicate that his defense tumbled from what was already considered a weakness. Thus, his fWAR has had a three year fall from 7.1 in 2009 to 2.7 in 2010 and then to 2.3 in 2011. This is all somewhat relative to the fact that even at age 37, Jeter was as good or better than half of the other shortstops around baseball. But history shows us that Jeter is in the full decline stage of his career and there is serious question to how long he can adequately play. Consider the following chart culled from on other shortstops historically. Click on the chart to see it better:

I probably used too many examples and all the lines make it hard to separate the players. Jeter’s age 37 season was almost dead on to what Pee Wee Reese did in his age 37 season and was slightly higher than Cal Ripken’s age 37 season. Reese fell off the table starting with his age 38 season while Ripken had a slightly more productive season at age 38 than he did at 37. Barry Larkin and Luis Aparicio scored no value at age 37 but both rose a bit in the next two seasons. Larkin played 145 games at age 38 but Aparicio was limited to a role player by that age and garnered value in small playing times. It is hard to compare Jeter to Ozzie Smith because Smith was a different player. Smith’s value was mostly on the defensive side. But Smith’s offense fell off by age 37 and his age 38 season was his last as a full time shortstop.

Cal Ripken, Jr. had one more decent season at the age of 38 and then fell off sharply after that. And, of course, Ripken was playing third by then. Ozzie Smith had value right through his age 39 season, but again, that value was in his defense, something Jeter is not going to be able to duplicate.

The history of these Hall of Fame shortstops shows us that there is the possibility that Jeter can have one more productive season. But even that is a 50/50 proposition. The history also shows that for Jeter to be effective beyond this coming season is a complete long shot and unlikely. Despite the flashes we saw in the second half last season, history is not on Derek Jeter’s side.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

7 thoughts on “Derek Jeter fights history

  1. History is not actually on any players side.

    However, Jeter has the advantage of this day and age. Traning and conditioning and diet and rehab and traetment are all in his favor compared to the aging elite you listed. 2009 was unbelievablely good, 2010 was an unbelievable drop and seem to be the new norm. Ortiz was suppose to be toast about three years ago and streaks both ways these days…I kind of view Jeet they same way except that he is much more fit.

    I can see a low of .260/.295/.350 to a .340/.370/.440 over the next two years and wouldn't be surprised if we see both.

    BTW, good post.

    • Good response, CS. Time will tell. I hope for the best and expect anything. Thanks.

  2. If we ignore the fact that he's leading off, how many people in the yankees organization or last years free agent class would you rather have? Like it or not, we're stuck with DJ, and as one of his biggest fans since 1996 I'm hoping DJ can fight off father time one more year. Nice work Tasker, even though you're scaring the sh*t out of me.

    • Well that made me laugh audibly. He's always been my favorite too. But I've always tried to view him through the haze of my fan-self.

  3. He's Derek Jeter. I know he's at that age, but it's impossible for me to sit their and say i don't expect a .300 avg out of him. I've seen him play amazingly year in and year out for my whole life. It doesn't matter what other players did at this age, to me, Derek is different, at least to me.

  4. Ignoring the fact that Jeter's salary is really a marketing contract, do the Yankees have a better replacement shortstop in their system that will outproduce him this year?